Taste of Melbourne 2010, Opening Night

by April@MyFoodTrail on August 27, 2010

in Food Events

I was very excited about this year’s Taste of Melbourne festival as the restaurant line up was completely different from last years and also because I was invited to an exclusive blogger’s session on opening night!

The group of us 8 food bloggers (Thanh, Sarah & Sandra, Penny, Emily & Saskia & Claire) were supposed to meet the lovely Lizzy & Kathleen for a tour of the stalls before it was open to the public at 5.30pm, but those plans were put on hold due to an evacuation! Luckily it wasn’t a major drama because the doors opened again half an hour later. I can just imagine the mayhem if the building had to be evacuated once the public were let inside!

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Outside
Top: The Royal Exhibition Building; Bottom left: A fire truck arriving; Bottom right: Everyone waiting to get back in

Our first stop was The Australian Gourmet Traveller Chefs Table where there were representatives from Regal Salmon waiting for us with some canapés. Regal Salmon comes from king salmon raised in New Zealand and it was interesting to learn that king salmon has double the Omega 3 (good oils) of Atlantic salmon! We got to try a salmon mousse cone and a salmon tartare. I really loved the salmon tartare. Regal Salmon mostly supply the restaurant industry, but they do stock their products in Victoria Market and Leos. We were lucky enough to get a packet of their smoked salmon and the salmon pastrami to take with us.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Regal Salmon
Left: The Australian Gourmet Traveller Chefs Table; Top right: Salmon tartare, Bottom right: Salmon mousse cones

Next on the agenda was a fun cocktail making session presented by Sensology. This ‘Art of Cocktail Making’ arena is new to Taste of Melbourne this year. All of us were taught step by step how to make a Grand Margarita and the best bit was that we got to drink it afterwards! It’s great value at only $10, which includes the lesson and the cocktail at the end of it. There are 5 different classes for each Taste of Melbourne session.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Sensology Cocktail Making
Top: The Sensology cocktail making area; Bottom left: Our instructor; Bottom right: The cocktail making instruments

The first step is to rub a lime half along the rim of a margarita glass and dip it in some sea salt. A Grand Margarita is made with 30ml of freshly squeezed lime juice, 30ml of tequila, 30ml of Grand Marnier and 2 bar spoons of caster sugar. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake! Ta da, a Grand Margarita!

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Sensology Cocktail Making - Margarita
My Grand Margarita

After our drink, we moved on to the Smeg lounge where we all oohed and ahhed over the beautiful retro fridges. I want the red one to match my KitchenAid! I’m dreaming though because the fridge prices start from almost $4,000! The chef gave us a quick cooking demonstration of a wagyu beef tataki. We got to try a small piece and it was fantastic.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Smeg Lounge
Left: The chef in action; Top right: The beautiful Smeg fridges; Bottom right: The beef being seared

Next up was a visit to the pop up restaurant, which for Thursday night was contemporary French restaurant, Koots Salle a Manger. There are 4 different pop up restaurants over the 4 days. We also visited Charcoal Lane where chef Damien Styles had a chat with us about the wonderful things Charcoal Lane is doing for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Charcoal Lane
Left: Chef Damien Styles; Top right: Charcoal Lane’s raspberry & rosella flower cannelloni; Bottom right: Koots offerings

There are a few wineries who are showcasing their wines at Taste of Melbourne and we visited Mount Avoca. Mount Avoca has launched a new wine called Frizzante, which is aimed at the alcopop drinkers. If you like your sweet wine, definitely try this one. I like sweet wine, but not too sweet and I found the Frizzante just right. It doesn’t taste like alcohol at all which is a dangerous thing, but it’s only 6% alcohol.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Mount Avoca Wine Tasting
Top: Mount Avoca wine tasting; Bottom left: Frizzante wine; Bottom right: Mount Avoca Shiraz

We stopped by the Bultarra saltbush lamb store briefly and had a sample of the lamb. They are selling cuts of lamb for you to buy at Taste of Melbourne, but they also make regular appearances at various farmers’ markets around Melbourne.

One of our last stops was to Alberto’s Delicacies. Alberto’s Delicacies sells fresh home made pastas, pasta sauces and one of the best pestos you will ever taste! Do stop by his stand to try out the pestos, you won’t be disappointed! We each received a packet of pasta and our choice of pesto so I’m really looking forward to trying the pesto with the pasta at home. They have recently opened a retail store in Brunswick.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Alberto's Delicacies
All the pestos of Alberto’s Delicacies

Our last stop before we were unleashed on the food was to the Yarra Valley produce area. There was a variety of different jams, biscuits, sweets and other items from the Yarra Valley area on display and for purchase. You have to try some of the Crumbs Shortbread – so good!

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Yarra Valley Produce
Left: Crumbs biscuits; Top right: Kiwi fruit jam; Bottom right: Jam Lady Jams

We finished off the blogger’s session in the HSBC VIP Lounge and by this stage we were all very hungry! Several people went to get some food while the rest of us minded the seats, which is a very good plan for Taste of Melbourne. I would recommend you do this if you want a seat! Hothouse Media provided us with some crowns so we could sample some of the dishes. We got a few different dishes and shared them around.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Koots 7 hour lamb
Koots Salle a Manger – Seven hour braised leg of lamb with a mushroom & potato pave & glazed baby carrots $12

The lamb was encased in a thin skin to hold it together because it was made up shredded meat mixed together with bits of carrots. The taste reminded me of a sausage roll for some reason! I only had a small bit of the duck rillette but it was really tasty.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Libertine & Le Traiteur Smoked duck rillettes
Libertine & Le Traiteur – Smoked duck, apple & walnut rillettes – shredded duck confit en croute $10

Both Thanh and I got the Maze seared Hopkins River beef, while Sarah and Sandra got the eye fillet from The Palace. While the Maze beef was really nice, I think Thanh and I suffered from some beef envy at the size and deliciousness of the eye fillet… so much so we got a plate for ourselves. The eye fillet was extremely tender and I loved the accompanying sauce. They did a perfect job of cooking the eye fillet even though they would have had to churn out so many. This is a must try!

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Maze Seared Hopkins Beef
Maze Restaurant & Maze Grill – Seared Hopkins River beef, shitake & aged soy dressing $12

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - The Palace Eye Fillet
The Palace – Eye fillet, potato mash, sauce Bordelaise $12

I had looked at the menu beforehand and the pork cheek was something I had marked to try, though I was saving it for when I went again with hubby. Sarah and Sandra got the pork cheek and as expected, it was very tender.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Mezzo Pork Cheek
Mezzo Bar & Grill – Organic slow braised pork cheek, white polenta, raisins & marsala sauce $8

There aren’t many desserts on offer this year and admittedly none of them really jumped out at me. I would rather spend my crowns on savoury food. I was so glad I got to try some of Sarah and Sandra’s ‘the bombe’ from Stokehouse because I wouldn’t have ordered it myself. OMG it really was the bomb! The outer layer was a meringue, followed by the white chocolate parfait and then the strawberry sorbet in the middle. You had to make sure you got some of each of the three layers in one mouthful to really appreciate its awesomeness! This was my favourite dish of the night.

Taste of Melbourne 2010 Thurs - Stokehouse The Bombe
Stokehouse – The Bombe – strawberry sorbet, white chocolate parfait & toasted meringue $10

Overall: I didn’t try that many dishes but I would recommend the bombe from Stokehouse and the eye fillet from the Palace. There are also quite a few specialty product stands with samples on offer so I look forward to exploring them more when I return again on Saturday!

Over & Out, April xx

April attended Taste of Melbourne opening night thanks to Hothouse Media & Events.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

thanh7580 August 28, 2010 at 12:10 am

Great write up April. It was so much fun. I wish we could have stayed longer. We still had lots of champagnes to finish and as you were getting more and more drunk, you got funnier and funnier.

By the way, you you've linked my blog incorrectly haha. You need to link it as http://www.ieatthereforeiam.blogspot.com. Can't wait for Saturday, let's rock Taste of Melbourne again. I'm getting that bombe again for sure.

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Iron Chef Shellie August 28, 2010 at 8:24 am

Another super fast review!

Prob see you later today?
x

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Janet August 28, 2010 at 11:13 am

Thanks for the review and photos!! I've been searching for a review like this. Definitely going to try the eye fillet from The Palace and The Bombe, those were two of the ones I had marked on my sheet 🙂

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mademoiselle délicieuse August 28, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Wow, now I know why you said it took you forever to edit your photos! Great work =)

(I love the retro look of a Smeg fridge too!)

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penny aka jeroxie August 28, 2010 at 8:14 pm

It was such a fun and delicious bloggers night out. Good on Hot Media for setting this up and taking us through various producers, stalls and sponsors.

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Conor @ Hold the Beef August 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm

So jealous, wish I could have joined the fun! I am SO making a Grand Margarita next time I'm in a cocktail mood (well, I am totally in a cocktail mood right now but the fact I'm running the City to Surf tomorrow means I might hold myself back…. until tomorrow lunchtime at least).

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Sarah August 29, 2010 at 10:25 am

Hey April,

Woah! Can't believe you blogged that so fast! Perfect write-up of the night. Wasn't it so much fun!

My fave was that eye fillet – I think everyone I've spoken to who's been to Taste has had that and loved it too!

xox Sarah

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Helen (Grab Your Fork) August 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

So much deliciousness! The eye fillet sounds amazing and the pork cheek looks good too. Blow-torched meringue is always a winner. Yum.

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imasugarjunkie August 30, 2010 at 10:08 am

Jealous!!
I didn't get to go AGAIN to the festival this year… it always seems to be held on weekends where there are birthdays and events on! The food looked good, look forward to hearing about your experience on Sunday.

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Lollypop August 30, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Hi April,

I just want to say thank you for the tickets. I went on the Sunday, and even though it was packed, I had a great time. I loved the food from Embrasse, Mezzo and The Palace. Also had fun with the cocktail making (grand margarita)!

Wasn't so impressed with Esposito. I thought their 'hot date tart' was quite stingy and disappointing (and not hot). More like a dodgy homemade slice than something worth $8. Did you end up trying it? I wonder what other people thought.

Nevertheless, despite the low, there were enough highs to make it totally worthwhile.

Thank you!

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Emma @CakeMIstress August 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Nice review. Am drooling over the retro fridges too! (A red one please Santa, if you're reading).
I wonder if I can walk into Stokehouse and just order the Bombe without a main, he he. Everyone's raving about it!

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My Restaurants Melbourne September 3, 2010 at 6:31 am

It was such a great event!! those classes you did there looked so interesting. I'm looking forward to next years event.

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April @ My Food Trail September 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Hi Thanh: Sorry about the link, have already fixed it! LOL abt the champagnes! We did it all again on Saturday!

Hi Shellie: It was great to see you on Saturday, albeit for a short time! 🙂

Hi Janet: Hope you had a great time and enjoyed the eye fillet and the bombe dessert!

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: Hehe, I only just discovered a program that automatically collages a group of photos for you. I was spending ages working out measurements to make my photos into a collage!

Hi Penny: Yes, it was a very enjoyable night out!

Hi Conor: Hope the City 2 Surf went well & you duly rewarded yourself with a Grand Margarita!

Hi Sarah: I was rushing to get it out before I went for a second time!

Hi Helen: Those three dishes were the highlight of the event!

Hi imasugarjunkie: Hopefully you get the chance to go next year! Make sure you block it out in your calendar!

Hi lollypop: Thanks for coming back and telling me about your experience! I didn't try the date tart but I did see photos of it. Didn't look too appealing to me! So glad you had a great time!

Hi Emma: I'm thinking the same thing… both about Santa bringing me a red Smeg fridge and also whether I can just order the bombe at Stokehouse!

Hi My Restaurants Melbourne: Glad you had a great time! Hope to see you there next year!

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B. September 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

Oh yum! I wish I lived in melbourne! A taste of melbourne looked really good

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April @ My Food Trail September 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hi B: If you ever plan a trip to Melbourne, try and plan it when Taste of Melbourne is on. It's worth a visit if you've never been before!

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